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Fishermen convicted over 'man overboard' report.



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Last updated: 11 November 2003

Fishermen convicted over 'man overboard' report

DAFF03/249M 11 November 2003

Crewmembers of an illegal Indonesian fishing boat who falsely claimed they had lost their skipper overboard have been convicted over the incident in the Cairns Magistrates Court.

Federal Fisheries Minister Senator Ian Macdonald said the master of the Delifa Jaya was yesterday convicted of hindering a public official, while the three crewmembers were convicted of aiding and abetting in hindering a public official.

The Cairns Magistrates Court imposed a six-week jail penalty on the skipper in relation to the false report, and 14 days imprisonment for each of the crew for their part in the incident.

"As well, the master was fined $6,500 for breaches of the Fisheries Management Act 1991. In default, he will serve a total of 260 days imprisonment. Each crewmember has been fined $3,500, and will serve 70 days in jail upon default," Senator Macdonald said.

"These convictions should serve as a warning about the seriousness with which the Australian Government views false reports about maritime emergencies."

Senator Macdonald said the charges related to an incident on September 10 in the Gulf of Carpentaria when the crew of the Delifa Jaya advised a Navy boarding party from the patrol boat HMAS Warrnambool that they had lost their master overboard.

The patrol boat intercepted the fishing boat near Weipa, well inside the Australian Fishing Zone. The five crewmen were later taken on board HMAS Warrnambool after their vessel foundered and had to be sunk en route to Thursday Island.

"Following their report, which was treated very seriously by Australian authorities, an extensive air and sea search was conducted involving the patrol boat, a Coastwatch aircraft and two Australian fishing boats," Senator Macdonald said.

"The crew later advised Australian fisheries officers on Thursday Island, and Indonesian consular officials, that they did not lose a man overboard."

Further inquiries:

Senator Macdonald's office: David Crisafulli (07) 4771 3066 or 0400 144 483